US trade representative Robert Lighthizer has said he was examining all available tools to raise US tariffs on Chinese vehicles to the 40% duty that China is now charging on US-produced cars and light trucks.
Lighthizer said in a statement, cited by Reuters, criticizing China’s “egregious” tariffs on US-made vehicles that he was taking such action at the direction of president Donald Trump.
The statement came just days before Trump was due to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires in a showdown that could ease or worsen the trade war between the world’s two largest economies.
Reuters noted automotive duty on both sides had been increased by tit-for-tat tariffs. The US imposed a 25% tariff on Chinese vehicles on top of the 2.5% it normally charges. China had lowered tariffs for all other countries to 15% but imposed an additional 25% retaliatory tariff on US vehicles.
The US and China, looking to defuse tensions and boost markets, are also exploring a trade deal in which Washington would hold off on additional tariffs to the end of next spring in exchange for new talks aimed at major changes in Chinese economic policy, Reuters cited the The Wall Street Journal as reporting.
The Trump administration is seeking sweeping changes to China’s state-driven economic policies, including new protections for US intellectual property, an end to joint venture requirements, more access for US firms to China’s vast market and cuts in China’s industrial subsidies, Reuters added.